What Krishna Das and Tim Miller share in common

The Tuesday Led First class at Tim Miller’s is a special one. Tim practices along with the class, calling out the names of the poses and then the “five” for the breath count (or the appropriate number in head stand, etc.). There are eight backbends, one each for the names of Hanuman — Tuesday is his day, in relation to Ram — up to H.

As Bobbie said after, it is sort of like a regulated Mysore practice. You don’t have time to mess around, but there isn’t the formal nature of a Led with every breath counted. There also is something calming, perhaps even comforting, of having your teacher practicing along with you.

Hanuman Chalisa, via indif.com

My main lesson from it was about breathing. Specifically, that mine may not be exactly steady.

I was pleased (perhaps the first mistake) when during the Suryas, Tim’s count was only about 6.5 of my breaths. Not too bad. But then come Marichyasana C, let’s say, it was more like nine or 10. Some improvement is needed.

When this practice is over, there’s what Tim today called “dessert.” He leads one round of the Hanuman Chalisa, and today he had close to a full band — guitar, bass, tabala, cymbals — and a crowded room consisting of those who had just finished the practice and those who would be practicing during Mysore, which follows.

I’ve seen Tim lead the Chalisa more times than I can count now. But something different this time around is that earlier this month we attended an intimate kirtan with Krishna Das. It was also in a yoga studio, only slightly bigger. A same sense of immediacy to the “main guy.” (Post on it here.)

And what I suppose I noticed, mostly unconsciously, at the KD event, hit home today as I watched Tim, eyes shut, pumping his harmonium and singing the Chalisa.

Both he and KD, as they are singing, appear entirely focused inward and on the moment, on the Ishta Devata or the names of God. There’s a stillness, even in their motion. I doubt that were one to peer through a window into a room where either was playing alone that you’d notice much difference in them. In many ways, they seem unaware of the audience (well, the people gathered audience), although after Tim will comment so it isn’t as though he doesn’t hear or feel a sense of the room.

It doesn’t come across, I guess, as a performance. And it is that word, performance, that separates kirtan or chanting that draws me in versus ones that don’t. It’s my shy and inward nature, obviously. But I assume from watching Tim and KD, it’s a nature they at least share partially.

But Hanuman or the Guru or the name of God draws them out.

That lesson is pretty clear, huh?

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

2 thoughts on “What Krishna Das and Tim Miller share in common”

  1. Two things, first, I wear hearing aids and have a little clip-on mic that I ask teachers walking around in big classes to wear. It pipes their voices right into my ear. When Tim was wearing it, his breathing sounded to me like a jet plane taking off. I couldn’t get over it. And second, watching him during the Hanuman Chalisa is not like watching a performance, you are right, it’s more like peering through a window at someone chanting by themselves.

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